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An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization Hardcover – March 28, 2012

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press (March 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674051831
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674051836
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #709,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Spivak remains an indispensable leader and guide in the exhilarating conceptual adventure—the trip—which, since the late sixties, we've called theory. Aesthetic Education presents us with lessons that she has learnt on the way—difficult, defiant, sober lessons for these unpromising times. They demand our attention. (Simon During, University of Queensland)

This captivating collection of lectures delivered over the course of a quarter century asks us to attend to the profoundly democratic possibilities of the imagination. Aesthetic education empowers us to apprehend and negotiate what Spivak calls the "double bind at the heart of democracy." At a time when the humanities are expected to genuflect before the sciences and privatization and professionalization displace knowledge, Spivak urges us not only to stand tall but to insist that ethical solidarities are only possible through the rigorous training of the imagination. (Angela Y. Davis, University of California, Santa Cruz)

[A] rewarding series of meditations on the possibility of reading, learning, and teaching that would encourage the full flowering of cultural, sexual, and linguistic diversity and resist the homogenizing force of globalization...The gathered texts are a testament to a fundamental faith in the power of literature that is never less than inspiring. (Publishers Weekly 2011-11-11)

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's latest collection of essays offers a timely reminder of what the real and powerful ends of education might be...[The essays] cover the breadth of an extraordinary intellectual career...The essays, for all their diversity, have the quality of a cumulative, long retrospection, a slow-burning consideration of what it means to teach, how faultily we do it and how we might do better by those who most want to learn and have least opportunity...It is, though, Spivak's assertion, after Schiller, that an aesthetic education remains the strongest resource available for the cause of global justice and democracy. The homogenizing and pacifying effects of globalization, which Spivak so routinely lambasts, here, she argues, can never extend "to the sensory equipment of the experiencing being." And here she has never sounded more persuasive, identifying in arts education the evocation of a phenomenology of feeling and the engendering of critical thinking that are posited beyond the logic of capital. (Shahidha Bari Times Higher Education 2012-04-06)

Spivak is one of the most creative and influential scholars of the humanities of the past four decades; this volume shows the range and variety of her interests in topics ranging from Jacques Derrida, postcolonial studies, women in the Global South, migration in a global (arguably 'planetary') era, translation, and aesthetic education...She brings a profound knowledge of literary and cultural theory to her studies of 'culture on the run, the vanishing present.' Some of the essays here are classics, others will become so. (K. Tölölyan Choice 2013-03-01)

About the Author

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak is University Professor at Columbia University and a trainer of elementary school teachers in West Bengal.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Dorcie Lambert on March 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had originally planned on waiting to review this until after I had completed the book, which is probably going to be a while since I am in college. However, based on the fact that the only review is by someone who is refusing to read it (for understandable reasons), I changed my mind.

So far, I am about a hundred pages in. Here are my thoughts to this point:

I have read some of her work in the past, and have watched several of her lectures and presentations online. Pretty much every presentation I have watched is in this book. I actually appreciate that. She is very literate, and it is handy to be able to see in print what she said aloud.

So far, what interests me most, though, is her preface and rather long introduction. Surprisingly, they were not as difficult to read as I imagined they would be, for which I am very thankful. I am also thankful that she gives the reader her reasoning for the order of the different essays, and how she views them. It is obvious that she teaches, so her introduction is essentially a guide, ideas and questions to keep in mind while reading the individual essays. More than that, though, the introduction serves as a reminder that she wants the reader to not only think about certain ideas while reading the individual essays, but also how the essays relate to the one before and/or after it. She sets up very interesting dichotomies.

Her end notes are an absolute treasure trove. I consider the book worth it for that alone. I love it when academics actually discuss their ideas and reasoning in their end notes.

This book is making me think. I set the book down this afternoon to go get lunch, yet I found myself considering her points the entire time I was driving to the restaurant.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By G. T. Bysshe on September 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Spivak has had her readers for some time. They don't need this review. These comments are for those who have not read her and are wondering if they can.

Peter J. Conradi's characterizations of Iris Murdoch's experiences of a seminar with her Classics professor Eduard Fraenkel in 1939 mirrors perfectly what Gyatri Spivak wants from her students: one has to understand both the [text, poetry, fiction] and at the same time, why the language was what it was [in translation if necessary], what to do about the variant readings...follow a discussion to and fro.. and to SEE what humane scholarship [is] like for people whose life it [is]: detailed, creative, useful, very hard work.

I came face to face with the author in this book for the first time. On one hand, reading Gayatri Spivak is like meeting a person who is "on the phone" in a hundred different conversations at once. On the other hand, reading her in this book is to be personally directed by the author through a series of her lectures- the "good teacher" role emerging from her toward a new generation of hopefully "good students," in exploring her idea of the role of the humanities in national and international civil society.

She is distinctly of my generation- living here all the time, occupying a parallel space to my own without having been enmeshed in the snares of being American. Her book has unified my entire peripatetic intellectual life, only she is the one like Aristotle, walking and teaching- a real person in a present life: the opposition, still standing, speaking, writing.

[From another's comment: "Is this book for everyone? I doubt it. Not everyone enjoys theory."] This book is not theory. It is a practice. Demonstrations of practice.
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0 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Joel on March 7, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you speak Chinese you might like this book, but the scholarly writing is totally ridiculous in this case. S***.
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